If diabetes is unmanaged, it can destroy almost every organ in your body, causing heart attacks, strokes, amputations, nerve damage, blindness and kidney failure. And now doctors have new technology that could help you get better control of your blood sugar.
A couple of years ago, Mel Layrisson's, 57, of Marrero, went to his primary care doctor. A problem was discovered on a routine blood test.
"They saw my sugars were elevated and they said, 'Well, you're a type 2 diabetic,' and they need to start putting me on medicine," said Layrisson.
But his blood sugar was still sky high, so he went to a specialist, an LSUHSC endocrinologist for help. In the past, patients would have blood drawn with a needle from a vessel and wait days or a week to get their A1c (HbA1c) level. That's a three month average of their blood glucose. But now doctors at the LSU clinic on St. Charles Avenue, have new technology called the Point of Care Hemoglobin A1c machine by Siemens that gives you the results in just six minutes.
"We can really target their therapy to how they're doing. So having that information right there in the clinic, real time, makes a big difference," said Dr. Taniya de Silva, an endocrinologist at LSU Health Sciences Center.
Instantly doctors can council patients on diet, exercise, and medicine, or change the current therapy if they see it's not working.
"A lot of the studies that have been done have shown that there is a decrease rate of complications from diabetes if patients are able to maintain their blood sugar control to have a Hemoglobin A1c less than seven, explained Dr. de Silva.
It's important for you to know about this technology because in Southeast Louisiana, we have one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes. There are two reasons why. Part of it is the genetics we have inherited. But the other part is lifestyle. We eat too many calories and too much sugar. We're too overweight and also we don't exercise enough. What hat does is trigger the genes to cause type 2 diabetes.
"I saw someone in their mid-twenties just this week with type 2 diabetes which perhaps would have been less common years ago," added Dr. de Silva.
Layrisson now walks a mile a day and is 20 pounds thinner. His pressure and sugar are better too. Twenty-eight years ago, it was wanting to be there for his oldest son that encouraged him to stop smoking. Now this time, it is wanting to be there as a healthy dad for his 10-year-old son that is inspiring him to never take his health for granted.
Insurance pays for this new, fast, blood test, just as it would for the tests that take longer to get the results.